License dollars at work

Minnesotans make the outdoors

Minnesota has some of the best outdoor opportunities in the country. Mother Nature gave us a uniquely diverse canvas, but world-class outdoor recreation exists because the state's anglers and hunters are passionate about the outdoors and support it with their time, commitment and dollars.

License dollars create opportunities

Your license dollars pay for fish and wildlife management, public land infrastructure maintenance and habitat management that DNR fish and wildlife staff perform across Minnesota. License dollars also help fund conservation officers.

This work creates some of the nation's most sought-after outdoor experiences. You'll find them fishing or boating on one of Minnesota's 4,500 fishing lakes, paddling or wading its 16,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams or afoot in field or forest at one of its 1,500 Wildlife Management Areas.

Use the selection boxes below to discover how the biologists who staff area fisheries and wildlife offices across Minnesota use their knowledge and expertise to manage fish, wildlife and habitat for the benefit of 1.5 million anglers, 600,000 hunters and 500,000 bird and wildlife watchers.

We like it outside

Nearly 50% of Minnesotans 16 and older participated either fished, hunted or watched wildlife in 2022.

Fishing generated $5.9 billion in economic activity; hunting generated $1.2 billion; and wildlife watching generated $5 billion.

Learn more about Minnesota's outdoor activities and their economic impact in the 2022 national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife associated recreation.

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DNR fisheries at work for you:

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DNR wildlife at work for you:

State lottery & legacy amendment dollars are off limits

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Minnesota State Lottery and Legacy Amendment dollars are not available for basic year-to-year fish and wildlife management or conservation officer funding. Those dollars can only be used for specifically approved projects.

Since state law prohibits lottery and legacy dollars from paying the regular costs of doing fish, wildlife and habitat management and maintenance work across Minnesota, license fee dollars have to support the necessary and growing amount of work DNR staff must do to allow lottery and legacy funds to be put to use.

Strict rules on spending; citizens oversee what's spent

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Hunting and fishing license dollars are kept separate from other DNR funds in a dedicated state treasury account called the Game and Fish Fund. These dollars can only be used for fish, wildlife, law enforcement and certain other related activities.

State law requires that the Legislature allocate dollars from this special state fund to DNR for specific expenses detailed in a governor's budget request. DNR cannot access dollars from this fund without legislative authorization and gubernatorial approval.

As DNR spends these license dollars, groups of citizens who serve on the fisheries, wildlife and budget oversight committees monitor why and how the DNR spends them on game, fish and habitat management and maintenance.

License fees leverage more dollars for the outdoors
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On the average, hunting and fishing license fees are adjusted about once every five years. The 2017 fee adjustment for some but not all licenses means that only three adjustments – occurring in 2001, 2012 and 2017 – have provided solid fish and wildlife funding for the past 25 years.

Maintaining an adequate flow of license dollars allows Minnesota to get more bang for its conservation buck. Federal excise taxes paid on certain types of outdoor gear and marine fuels are allocated to each state based on the number of people who buy hunting and fishing licenses and the geographic size of the state. Minnesota deposits its federal dollars into the Game and Fish Fund.

For every $100 Minnesota spends on allowed game and fish expenses, the federal government reimburses $75, effectively allowing DNR to spend three times more than it could if it only used money from license sales for fish, game and habitat management and maintenance.

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